Thursday, March 11, 2010

Teenagers and a Clothing Allowance

One of the reasons many people I know decide not to have a large family is because they believe they won't be able to afford the costs of raising so many children. This is certainly a reasonable opinion, but if that's what stopping you, I'd like to share one way I save money and teach valuable lessons when it comes to teenagers and clothing.

If you've been to the mall lately, you know how expensive clothes for teenagers are. I have seen shirts for $40, jeans for $70 and sweaters for $80. How can one possibly afford to keep their children clothed, but still trendy, at these prices? Walmart is always an option, but I've found that most Walmart clothing is very low quality and doesn't last the year. You get what you pay for, right?

With three teenagers at home, this is what I do...

When a child reaches the age of 12, I no longer give them an allowance like I did from ages 5 to 11. (Incidentally, their allowance was their age in dollars every two weeks.) Once their twelfth birthday hits, they then receive a "clothing allowance". I pay this to them in the fall, right before school starts, at the beginning of the new year, and at the start of the summer vacation. Depending on the condition of their current wardrobe, I give them about $300 each before the beginning of each semester, and about $150 each for the summer. Let's break this down, so you can see how this adds up over the year.

3 kids times $300 (fall semester)
3 kids times $300 (spring semester)
3 kids times $150 (summer)
$187.50 per month

If you only have one teenager, this is only $62.50 per month.

It seems like a lot, but read further, and you may change your mind. However, if these figures don't work for your budget, you can change them as you see fit.

So what do I expect my kids to buy with their clothing allowance?

-swim suits
...and anything else they want to put on their bodies.

As you can imagine, this allowance goes quickly, and it behooves each child to wisely consider which way their money will go. Will they spend it at Pacsun in the mall? Will they buy their underwear and socks at Walmart? Will they venture into some of our favorite thrift stores? Honestly, I absolutely love seeing what they come up with.

Last year, the 18-year-old boy spent $100 on a leather jacket, $60 on a pair of jeans, and $40 on a button-down shirt...

(photos shown are examples)

Total for one outfit: $200

These decisions left him very little in his budget for anything else.

In contrast, the 15-year-old girl bought all of her socks and underwear at Walmart, then spent the remainder at a local thrift store, purchasing a total of about seven pairs of pants, some for only $5, and ten shirts, some for only $3, a jacket, sweaters, and some scarves.

(photos shown are examples)

Total for one outfit: $13

Okay, so honestly, probably the $200 outfit is a tad cooler, but $187 cooler? I think not.

Often, other learning experiences present themselves as well. Sometimes, during the school year, one of the teenagers will come to me and say, "Mom. I need some socks. All of mine have holes in them," to which I will reply, "Great, we'll write it on the list of things we need at the store if you'll just give me some of your clothing allowance to cover it."

This response will almost always be met with a look of confusion and/or disappointment and/or consternation, sometimes even ensuing in an argument. But I remain firm, and if they have spent all of their clothing allowance, then I give them the opportunity to work to earn the money they need for their additional clothing desires. My going work rate is $5 an hour, which can be earned by doing any number of things, such as being my personal servant, giving me a shoulder rub, babysitting, etc.

So there you have we do clothing for teenagers. How do you clothe your teenagers, but still keep them trendy? Let's talk.

P.S. To read about how other moms of teens do clothing, go to the JuiceBoxJungle Facebook fan page HERE.

On 365 Days of TV-Free Toddler Time today:
It's Cereal and Pipe Cleaner Time! Click the pic to see.

On life in mexico {and other places} a picture a day today:
{a vase}


Shannon said...

My city has an amazingly organized thing. An absolutely free clothing swap. You should check out the website to get an idea of the concept and how it was developed.
But there are kid swaps, usually held four times a year, womens clothing in different sizes-numerous times a month in different parts of town and a developing men's swap. Sure every once in a while I buy something elsewhere but for real for the last few years most of our family's clothing has been FREE. You can organize these in churches, or homes with friends or neighbors. It's fun, people are respectful and not hoarders and it has helped me learn to let go of things and to know great things clothing wise will come around again.

Leslie said...

I don't have teens yet. My 11 year old is only 10 months from turning 12 and I've thought of doing your exact system. It sounds like the one in The Parenting Breakthrough which is probably my all time favorite parenting related book. I think the clothing budget is so smart not just for teaching kids how to manage money and realize that affordable clothes are just as fine to wear as cool clothes, but teaches patience.

thorney said...

I was never as organized as you. I was the Mom sitting in the comfy chair at A&F while my son brought pils of clothes for me to hold and then I paid for them all.

My older son liked the vintage clothes which were even more expensive then the trendy ones.

I only had the two though so I can't complain too much. I would love a free clothing swap--love this idea.

RhondaLue said...

we don't do a clothing allowance or anything like that, though I do love the idea!

We go right before school starts and take an inventory of everything they already own, what they need, and what can be passed down or accepted as a hand me down from an older sibling. We buy much less that way, as we go into the stores with a small list for each child. Little boys get all hand me downs aside from socks because they disappear or wear out before they can be passed down.

We do thrift stores FIRST, then we use coupons and shop sales for the rest (which isn't much). They may only get 3 uniform pants for school but that just means they have to do laundry mid-week to have clean clothes for the remainder of the week.

They also ask grandma's for clothing or money to go towards clothing as Xmas or Bday gifts. I spend very, very little on clothing. If they want anything more than a couple of basics they must earn the money themselves by doing lawnwork for others, babysitting, etc because our situation prevents us from giving them the money ourselves.

So far, so good! I think it's easier for girls to find thrift store you agree?

~Amy~ said...

Great ideas. I have been wanting to institute an allowance system. My kids are 8,7,3,2,so I don't know anything about this teenager business! And don't really look forward to it. We have some really nice people in our church who shop at places like Gymboree, an they pass down their little girls clothes to my daughter. It's just so sweet of them.

Jennifer said...

Thankfully we haven't gotten there yet but it won't be long. Right now I'm grooming my 9 year old to appreciate vintage. We have fun looking through the thrift store and yard sales for stylish clothes. He's not real picky but he has said no to a few things. I hope by the time he's a teenager, we won't have to deal with too much of "mall must haves".

Karin said...

Great idea. I've been thinking that's the route I'll go when my kids get a few years older. Its such a great teaching tool. Another great post like this would be handling laundry. How involved are your kids? and at what age do they start?

Clarks N Idaho said...

Great ideas. I'm going to run this by my husband. Now you need to do a post on how much money you give each teenager for others stuff. ie. gas, movies, eating out with friends, bday gifts for friends, itunes, school funtions. I need help with this. $20 here $20 dollars there I never have money for myself.

Christy said...

I love reading tips like this from moms that have been there and figured out something that works for them. I do something very similar. At the beginning of the season, I determine how much of each item they really need and how much I am willing to spend. They then have to kick in money from birthday gifts etc or make some earnest decisions on what is most important to them.

Cassie said...

Luckily I don't have brand conscious teens yet. But I find sending them to a school which requires a uniform really cuts down on the clothing budget.

Cheryl B. said...

For many many years, "the boys" and I were dressed via bags of clothing the Lord blessed us with. And they did not always come from the same source. Sometimes we just came home to find them on the porch. It was definetly God supplying our 'needs', seeings how our income was so very very low, even though number of hours worked was not.

The thing was, that even though they were dressed via such methods, often they were wearing 'the latest' styles. Do you remember 'Bugle Boy' clothing? My sons wore tons of it, and double loved it because their clothing bore their initials :-}

Every year in Jan., I hit the "white sales" and bought all of them packages of underwear and socks. And yes, I bought the name brand stuff. I had tried the cheaper brands and found them to be just exactly that!!! 8-/

At least once a year I "tortured" my boys and starting with the eldest, would spend time with each individual child going through all of their clothes, trying things on to see what did or didn't still fit, etc.. And yes, we believed in passing things down through the rank.

The day before our house fire, I had had "the boys" (who were all then pre-teens and teens) clean their bedrooms and take all dirty laundry to the basement. That night was the house fire, and it started under the hot water heater, near the laundry area of the basement. I figured all of their clothes were totaled!

After the fire I was still working part time, and had oh so many 'details' to start dealing with concerning our house, etc.. But we all needed clothes. The idea of taking on the battles of clothing with "the boys" was more than I was up to.

So Brian and I came up with a total amount per child, and this plan of action.

For the eldest son (whom had graduated the week before the fire) I called two of his friends whom were girls, that I personally liked and trusted and asked them to take him shopping. I provided a basic list - you know, don't forget the under wear, etc..

With the other three sons, I asked some friends whom kept offering to help "anyways they could", to take the boys out shopping for me, and also provoded a basic outline.

One friend took a son to the mall and hit all of the 'cool shops'. While he thourally enjoyed it, he didn't end up with all that much. I rather felt sorry for him.

Another son instructed the person taking him that he wanted to go to Meijer's for underwear and that stuff, and then to various local "mission" type stores. He came home with so-o much stuff - and all of it was 'cool'!

The whole experience was very eye opening for all of "the boys".

The part they loved the best was that the company that handled all lines, stuffed animals, etc. after the fire, somehow worked their magic and close to 85% of "the boys" stuff got returned to us in surprisingly great condition.

"The boys" then got to go through the returned stuff and decide which items they still really liked and thus wanted to keep, and which things got put in bags and delivered to a different families porch :-}

Lynn said...

My kids are not given an allowance. They deliver flyers at age 9 then move up to a "real" part time job at age 14 and purchase their own clothing.

However, having said that.....we shop for second hand clothes (lot's of great brand name stuff for cheap!) before their 14th birthday for I feel it is my responsibility to clothe them before then. They do get ONE brand new (basement bargain priced) outfit for the first day of school.

All their clothes are then handed down to the next child when they out grow them.

And I still continue to purchase the socks and underwear for the long as they will let me. Because that is a need. Not a want in our house. I find it humorous when they do let me (wal-mart sales it is) so that they can budget for more clothing with their part time job pay cheque.

IT works for us!

Melinda said...

WOW some really great ideas being shared.Our kids allownace for weekly chores is paying for their cell phone @ $30 month. If they want more $ money for something specail then they have to do extra chores to earn it. But if they are going out and need a few bucks we just give it to them. Its not very often though. Luckily my teenagers like being home.

A far as clothing money........
My kids love love love clothes. I have a husband who grew up in a family with ten children him being one of the younger ones. Because of the poor childhood he had he makes sure our kids are well dressed and have whatever they need or want. He doesn't over do it though and the kids know the limits. We purchase clothing about the same times of the year as you. My kids for the most part aren't picky name brand type of kids but they do like nice, new, hip looking clothes. And if they find those brands they like on a good sale then we go with that. they take really good care of their clothes and that helps them last longer.

When they do spend their own money ( from work, brithdays, Christmas etc..) they shop around and find the best deals. They know to start at the clearance! LOL My kids love shoes too. My daughter has 30+ pairs of joke. we buy two pairs of shoes for each season change and thats it. If they want more then that they save for them.

I do have to admit I buy my kids stuff throughout the year. If I am out shopping and run across a good deal I usually pick it up. But my kids do have too many clothes and when we clean out their closets and pass clothes down most of them look new. Definately and area we could save in.

Thanks for sharing your ideas

Megan said...


Anonymous said...

Just wondering about 18 year old boy doesn't or can't work somewhere part time? and 15 year old doesn't babysit outside of family? or is that maybe not so possible where you live?


Mom2my9 @ 11th Heaven said...

Hi Erika,

Actually, here where we live in Mexico, it is difficult for people to find jobs that pay fair wages. If my kids work for me for $5 an hour, they are making about 3 times more than most laborers make here. It is sad. And yes, the 15-year-old girl can babysit outside our home, but I love it when she babysits for me, too! My policy is to pay my kids to babysit if I am doing something fun for myself, like going out to eat or if I'm working to earn money, but I don't pay them to babysit for church meetings, doctor's appointments, running errands and the like.

Cheryl B. said...

Hi Jen :-D

Stopped by to let you know that I posted updates about me and the Vertigo, etc.

Also, I'm in the process of re-decorating our blog :-> What site was it you used to make your own header? I made one on my computer using Microsoft Picture It Publishing. LOVED how it turned out ... but when I tried to insert it / link it to the blog, was told I had a 'corrupt file'?!?!! Hofefully I can use the same pictures, etc. elsewhere and make a header I like ....

Here is a hug for today ;-)

Brian + Cheryl B. said...

Just me again, experimenting with something. Hope you don't mind ;-p

Mom2my9 @ 11th Heaven said...

Hi Cheryl! For my blog background I used and for my header I used I actually had to make the shabbyblogs background wider, then saved it to photobucket and inserted it in their preset code. Good luck with your redesign project!

Jenis blog. said...

forget the kids clothes, we have hand me down uniform shirts from cousins, Remy wont wear anything but her pink cowgirl boots and ugly black pants and well the boys would rather go in their underwear like they are right now( with your son) iin the mud out in the yard! That means I can spend all the money on me!!! :)

Keeslermom said...

My teen is completely oblivious to clothes, style,even seasonal clothing changes. First, he's color blind,and does not even attempt to match, second, he does not care even a tiny bit. If I let him pick, we'd have more books and he'd wear jeans just past his knees, holey socks and shirts so small they show his belly button.
I will continue to shop for him, but maybe we can try your plan for the girls!

Anonymous said...

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Trisha said...

Uniforms have helped this problem out inmensely. Makenzie deals with this problem by buying shoes. She claims it's the only way to accesorize, so 52 pairs of shoes later she is happy. She has probably spent her own money on 40 pairs.P.S. Congratulations on the new baby boy! Last night I dreamt he was born and sure enough!